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Comparing Climate Politics and Adaptation Strategies in African Cities: Challenges and Opportunities in the State-Community Divide


Residents of African municipalities exhibit a lengthy and varied history of coping with conditions of pervasive precarity and uncertainty in the context of an unevenly present state. The climate crisis compounds these challenges. Based on case studies from across the continent, this introduction to the Special Issue on the Politics of Climate Action in Africa’s Cities presents research oriented around questions of “do-it-yourself” urbanism, sustainable development, and climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts undertaken by socio-economically vulnerable citizens. It offers insight into how the urban poor respond to ongoing urban climate crises, the variable roles of an absent, ineffectual, or inattentive state, and the unequal power relations undergirding sustainability discourse and practice. It draws on a cross-regional comparative perspective that centres conversations about urban theory and development in a (urban) world succumbing to mounting pressures from climate change, environmental precarity, and pervasive inequities.

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  1. Based on a paper titled “Infrastructure, Climate Citizenship and Exclusion in Lagos, Nigeria: A View from the Eko Atlantic City”, presented at the conference on Governance and Local Development, University of Gothenburg, May 11, 2017.

  2. At the inception workshop on The Practice and Politics of Urban Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Efforts at the Margins held in Malmö, February 22, 2018, when Dabaieh presented on her project of “A minus carbon refugee house in Lund”.

  3. The paper titled “Governing groundwater use amid climate risks in Lusaka” was presented at the workshop on The Practice and Politics of Urban Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Efforts at the Margins, Lilongwe, October 28, 2019.


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This Special Issue and introduction emerge from the Formas-funded project “The Practice and Politics of Urban Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Efforts at the Margins” grant no. 2017-01980. This work was supported by the Nordic Africa Institute and Malmö University.

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Correspondence to Patience Mususa.

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Mususa, P., Marr, S. Comparing Climate Politics and Adaptation Strategies in African Cities: Challenges and Opportunities in the State-Community Divide. Urban Forum 33, 1–12 (2022).

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